I’ll be honest, today I’m being a little lazy. Below is the text of an email I received from Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern based in Silver Spring, Maryland. But following that, I will add human rights information about Morocco.
In December of 2005 a Christian man in Morocco by the name of Jamaa Ait Bakrim was arrested for burning down two old, unused wooden posts outside of his home. Almost seven years later, he is still sitting behind bars in the country’s largest prison and still has another 8 years left on his sentence. Why is Jamaa spending more than a decade in jail for destroying a couple of old wooden posts?
Because Jamaa is a Christian who dared to be open about his faith in Christ in one of the strictest Muslim countries of North Africa. The destruction of the posts, which Jamaa had asked for permission to get rid of, was simply an excuse for local police to arrest a man who somehow resisted all of the pressure to hide his Christian beliefs. Most of Jamaa’s 15-years sentence is not for destruction of property, but for “proselytizing”, a crime in Morocco that is rigidly forbidden and punished.
Jamaa’s journey to Christ and his eventual sentencing began decades ago when he converted to Christianity in Europe in the early 1990’s. Within a few years of returning to Morocco Jamaa was rejected by his family, forced into a mental institution, and sentenced to over a year in jail for having the audacity to put up a Christian cross in public.
Somehow undeterred Jamaa continued to be vocal about his faith until police finally found an excuse, the destruction of the wooden posts, to put Jamaa away for as long as possible.
Today, Jamaa needs your help. Without action it is likely that he will remain in prison for another 8 years, but outside pressure could be the key to securing his release. It will also send a message to the Moroccan government that it is unjust to imprison a man simply because he does not hide his faith. Lend your voice to ours, sign our petition and call for Jamaa’s immediate release.
Follow the instructions below and have your signatures back to us by Friday, October 26.
Here’s How You Can Help
#2 Next, review our petition.
#3 Electronically sign the petition.
#4 Print out the petition and take it to your friends and church and have everyone you know sign it. Send the signatures back to us so we can compile the responses.
Feel free to print out extra signature pages for large numbers of sign ups. When you have collected all your signatures, please mail the signature pages to:
PO Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907
or fax them to us at (301) 585-5918.
Please get them back to us by Friday, October 26.
From 1961-1999, known as the Years of Lead, King Hassan II ruled by political oppression and with an iron fist. His son, Mohammed VI, has proven to be a much more modern ruler, making strides to improve conditions in his country, which is perhaps why Morocco ranks 29 on the list of the worst nations in regards to persecution of Christians. However, there is still a long way to go as Jamaa’s experience shows us.
While there is freedom to worship freely, it remains illegal to defect from Islam since Islam is still the state religion. This, by default, makes proselytizing illegal and proselytizing is a necessary part of Christianity (Matthew 28:18-20).
Today, let’s pray that there will be peace between the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in Morocco, whose religious tensions are creating political tensions that King Mohammed cannot ignore. Let’s pray that the king will continue to modernize the nation out of compassion for his fellow human beings and will help to create a state where people can worship freely enough to share their faith with others.
Let’s pray for Jamaa’s immediate release from prison and for him to return to his home and profession without fear of recourse from Muslim neighbors. Let’s pray for him to be strengthened in faith and in joy, for him to give glory to God despite his suffering. Let’s pray that he would be an example to us, to walk in obedience to our Lord first, and also to our government insofar as it does not contradict our first loyalty.
Let’s pray for many (honest) signatures to be put on the petition for Jamaa’s release and for it to be presented to and accepted by his government peacefully. And let us pray for each of the towns on the Moroccan map, that peace would infiltrate the hearts of their inhabitants.
Thank you for your prayers and participation. If you choose to sign and share the petition, thank you also for that kindness to our brother. God bless you.